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Canon’s TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Lens

This past week I was finally able to get my hands on the new Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens. This lens is an update to Canon’s Mark I version which dates back to 1991. The earlier version, while never the sharpest lens in the bag, held up surprisingly well over the years. Where other lenses had to be shelved because the increased resolution of succeeding generations of dslr models rendered them problematic, the Mark I version of the TS-E 24mm with some extra Photoshop steps was still viable and a good counterbalance to shooting with fixed lenses and doing all of the perspective correction in Photoshop.

Canon TS-E 24mm II @ f/11
Canon TS-E 24mm II @ f/11
Compare the TS-E 24 II to the TS-E 24 in the upper right of the image above.
Compare the TS-E 24 II to the TS-E 24 in the upper right of the image above.
01_lower_left
Compare the TS-E 24 II to the TS-E 24 in the lower left of the image up top.

What does the new Canon TS-E 24 II bring to the table? It’s sharper, it’s optically true, and it exhibits no chromatic aberration. Using it will save a minimum of two steps in Photoshop post-production – it needs no correction for lens distortion nor does it need chromatic aberration correction. Eliminating those steps will save time and they’ll also save image quality as both steps tended to soften the image further.

Like the new TS-E 17mm, the TS-E 24mm II offers 12mm of shift. This is another improvement over the Mark I version of the lens which offered 11mm of shift but suffered image degradation if you shifted more than 7mm.

Canon TS-E 24mm, 0mm Shift
Canon TS-E 24mm, 0mm Shift
Canon TS-E 24mm II, +12mm Shift
Canon TS-E 24mm II, +12mm Shift

Most lenses on a 21mp’ish camera max out sharpness at f/11. Stop down more and diffraction sets in softening the image further. But when I tested the TS-E 17mm lens I found that if you wanted to hold sharpness on the outer edges when the lens is shifted you really needed to shoot at f/16. This was at the expense of softening some detail in the center of the frame but it was questionable how noticeable that would be. The TS-E 24mm II is similar but not as extreme.

Compare the TS-E 24mm II with a +12mm rise at f/11 and f/16 (image is the upper left corner of the photo above.)
Compare the TS-E 24mm II with a +12mm rise at f/11 and f/16 (image is the upper left corner of the photo above.)

You can see that f/16 is holding the corner a bit better but this is a very small area of the frame, the difference is not huge, and some print tests are needed to confirm if f/16 over f/11 is warranted in this situation.

As mentioned above, the TS-E 24 II appears to be optically true, amazingly so, and in that sense similar to a good view camera lens. Here is a composite image made from three horizontal frames on the TS-E 24 II utilizing the full range of possible shifts (-12mm, 0mm, +12mm.)

Canon TS-E 24mm II: -12mm, 0, +12mm Combined
Canon TS-E 24mm II: -12mm, 0, +12mm Combined
An overcast day is not necessarily the best day to test a lens. Details can look soft and mushy and you can’t push the lens when it comes to checking for chromatic aberration or flare but it’s clear from the images what an improvement the new lens is.
Canon TS-E 24mm II
Canon TS-E 24mm II
All of the images above: Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University.
Canon TS-E 24mm II, Roberts Stadium, Princeton University
Canon TS-E 24mm II, Roberts Stadium, Princeton University
Canon TS-E 24mm II, Roberts Stadium, Princeton University
Canon TS-E 24mm II, Roberts Stadium, Princeton University
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